The Ten Sexiest Biopics Of All Time
The sexiest women are the ones who actually lived.
This Friday, as posters heralding Vidya Balan's decolletage inform us, The Dirty Picture hits our screens, promising to tell us the story of sensational South siren Silk Smitha. Or to at least show her what made her popular -- though one imagines we can guess.
Here's my list of 10 films about women -- about real, strong, powerful, sexually independent women, women who broke creative ground, women who stood their ground, and those who routinely did the forbidden. It is also a list of actresses embodying these real characters and sizzling on screen. It is a list of films about icons and independence, hotness and heroics. And about very sexy women.
In a critically acclaimed breakthrough performance, a young Angelina Jolie dazzles in the role of model Gia Marie Carangi.
The film, about a model who skyrockets to the top but suffers from substance abuse and eventually dies at the age of 26, is filled with striking women -- including Faye Dunaway as Gia's agent and Mila Kunis as the young Gia -- but it's hard to look away from Jolie.
Image: Angelina Jolie as Gia
Julie Taymor's biopic of famed surrealist painter Frida Kahlo was an intelligent film that impressed with its balance between breadth and intimacy.
It is a film about art, a film where paintings dissolve into live-action and a film of immaculate performances. And it is also a film about Salma Hayek doing justice to a truly unique artist.
Image: Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo
3. The Notorious Bettie Page
Mary Harron's 2005 take on the life and times of groundbreaking 1950s bondage model and pin-up girl Bettie Page might have bitten off a bit more than it could completely chew, but Gretchen Mol in the title role gives it her all.
The moments she disrobes -- with gleeful naivete -- are the moments the film becomes special.
Image: Gretchen Mol as Bettie Page
4. The Runaways
Vocally speaking, Lady Grinning Soul is one of the toughest David Bowie tracks, and so it's little surprise that Cherie Currie lipsyncs to it in this formulaic but fun -- and often very sensual -- version of the story of Currie and Joan Jett's band, The Runaways.
A striking Dakota Fanning, all grown up, plays Currie, while Kristen Stewart is the bisexual Joan Jett.
Image: Dakota Fanning as Curri and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett
Mervyn LeRoy's marvellous musical -- with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, no less -- featured the incomparably gorgeous Natalie Wood in the role of Gypsy Rose Lee, possibly the most iconic of Hollywood's burlesque dancers, and certainly its most celebrated stripper.
Wood looked fantastic as usual, and unlike in West Side Story where her singing voice was dubbed, here sang her own songs.
Image: Natalie Wood as Rose Lee
6. The Josephine Baker Story
Jo Baker, who wore skirts made of bananas and frequently went topless, was a stunning black woman who played muse to several greats in 1920s Paris, including Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and Christian Dior.
Lynn Whitfield delivered very well indeed in the title role.
Image: Lynn Whitfield as Josephine Baker
7. Mata Hari
George Fitzmaurice's 1931 classic about Margaretha Geertruida Zella, a Dutch courtesan accused of being a German spy during World War I -- and executed by firing squad -- might not have been very factual but remains an essential piece of cinema.
Greta Garbo shone as Hari, creating an on-screen femme fatale unlike any we'd seen before or would again.
Image: Greta Garbo as Mata Hari
Widely considered the creator of modern dance, Isadora Duncan's tumultuous and dramatic life was captured well in this 1968 film where the indubitable Vanessa Redgrave played Isadora.
James Fox played Gordon Craig and Cynthia Harris was terrific as Mary Desti, but this film belongs to Redgrave, who picked up the Best Actress prize for it at Cannes.
Image: Vanessa Redgrave as Isadora Duncan
Joseph L Mankiewicz 1963 epic is remembered for many reasons -- most notably just how tremendously it grew past its budget, made for a mammoth $44 million at the time -- but it remains a Hollywood milestone, a 70mm monster with Elizabeth Taylor in what remains her most remembered performance.
Image: Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
10. Bonnie And Clyde
Arthur Penn's 1967 masterpiece might not be the story of a woman as much as it is one of crime and passion, but while Faye Dunaway's portrayal of Bonnie Parker might have little to do with fact, it is one to applaud and herald.
This is a visceral, violent, intensely involving work of art, and Dunaway's Bonnie showed that women could get their hands dirty, even better than men. And when it comes to sexual aggressiveness, few have made us sweat quite like her.
Image: Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker